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Staff burnout and patient access to endoscopy services were among the “key areas of concern” arising from the Covid-19 pandemic’s impact on cancer services, the Director of the National Cancer Control Programme (NCCP) told a HSE meeting in March. Prof Risteárd Ó Laoide made a presentation to the HSE safety and quality committee on the impact of Covid-19 on cancer services. In Ireland, the key areas of concern were patients’ access to endoscopy and cancer services’ access to data. The latter was “hindered by difficulties extracting it from various unintegrated sources and from the private sector”.
Prof Ó’Laoide emphasised that the risk of staff burnout in all areas including cancer services was significant, which the committee “was particularly concerned by”, stated meeting minutes. He also advised that access to diagnostics and IT infrastructure were “the two key areas” that must be addressed in cancer services and the wider health service.
Last month, the Medical Independent reported that clinicians at Cancer Trials Ireland had written to Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly urging him to take action to prepare for an unprecedented rise in cancer cases due to missed diagnoses and treatment gaps caused by Covid-19. On 2 June, IMO consultant committee Chair Dr Clive Kilgallen told the Oireachtas Health Committee that in the first three months of this year, 450 people per month were not seen within the recommended four weeks for an urgent colonoscopy